Planning success!
 

Nov 12, 2014

Over the last year, Steiner Academy Bristol has been working with the Education Funding Agency, Hatcher Prichard Architects and consultants from Mace Group to develop plans to use part of the St Matthias Campus for our school. The project has been a partnership with Barratt Homes - we're acquiring one end of the site for a school while Barratt Homes are taking on the remainder to build 215 new houses and flats.

The site is being sold by the University of the West of England, who are moving their operations over to their Frenchay campus over the other side of the M32.

For the last six months our team has been working away behind the scenes to put together a proposal for the site that gives our school the facilities we need while also fitting within BCC's planning policies on transport, urban design, conservation and more. Because the buildings are Grade 2* listed, we've also had to meet the the high standards of English Heritage for the work on the older buildings, which includes some structural works and new lifts for accessibility, as well as a thorough refurbishment.

This careful process of negotiation with Bristol City Council meant that our application for planning permission was fully supported by council officers, who recommended that the application should be approved. But alongside that we have also been working with the local community including the ward councillors - we want our school to be a positive part of the the community, with a local catchment and a commitment to giving something back to our local area.

Anyway, today our planning application finally made its way to the Development Control Committee and we're absolutely thrilled to say that the committee voted unanimously to approve it. Lesley Alexander, one of the ward councillors, was kind enough to speak in support of the application - she came to visit the school earlier in the week and evidently liked what she saw because she told the committee that the school was 'gorgeous'!

The councillors on the committee were also extremely positive about the application, describing it as “a win-win for the city and the local community.” Peter Abraham, the Chair of the committee, said that it was:

“...a really exciting development bringing much needed houses as well as a very popular new school.” 

 And Bill Payne, the other ward councillor for Fishponds, said:

“This is an excellent application – it’s innovative with lots of affordable housing and a school which will be a positive asset for the area."

There has been some concern over the transport impact of the scheme. There is no doubt that 215 extra homes and a school would have the potential to add to Fishponds existing road congestion. However, we're going to work hard with our parents to support car-free travel in any way we can, and we are clear that we want to become one of the greenest schools around. 

Strictly speaking, the committee voted that they were 'minded to approve' the application. They were unable to issue a full planning decision as Sport England had objected to the scheme on the grounds that UWE's playing field will be converted to parkland and housing.

UWE are creating a replacement playing field on their Frenchay campus which is currently awaiting planning permission; Sport England has agreed to drop their objection once planning permission is in place. So a formal approval of our planning application will follow soon; however, the decision has been made and we are all set to build ourselves a school!



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